Monday, 13 November 2017

A luxury break in the Lake District at Ees Wyke Hotel...

The Lake District is an area of such outstanding beauty that it has inspired poets, writers and artists to create some of the greatest works ever known and the sense of peace the landscape evokes is immediate. I often holidayed in the Lake District as a child, but I have not been there for quite some time, so I was delighted to get the opportunity to review Ees Wyke Hotel* this weekend. 
This Georgian country house hotel is set in a stunning location in the village of Near Sawrey, surrounded by beautiful countryside overlooking Esthwaite Water. 

The house is refined and stylish and after a warm welcome from charming owner Richard Lee, we were shown to our en-suite room which had magnificent sweeping views of the lake. Our room was bright and spacious and it was furnished with both contemporary and antique items as well as every convenience for a comfortable stay, such as Penhaligons toiletries, tea and coffee and a decanter of sherry which showed a real eye for attention to detail.

 After settling in to our room, we went for a stroll to soak up the views across the water to the soaring Langdale Pikes and the treetops of Grizedale Forest, before driving to nearby Ambleside, a charming town full of cosy pubs, shops and restaurants.

Later, we headed back to get ready for dinner. Throughout Ees Wyke Hotel, sophisticated antique furnishings emphasise the historic appeal of the building, while the comfortable lounge areas are a great place to relax by the fire or to read one of the many books on the local area.

The restaurant has been recommended by the Good Food Guide as well as being awarded an AA Rosette and winning an award for its breakfasts, so we knew we were in for a treat.

My starter of seared scallops were succulent and perfectly cooked, with a balsamic glaze and tangy tomatoes and this dish showcased exactly why scallops are such a popular dish.

My dining companion enjoyed a starter of rolled black and white pudding with a haggis centre, glazed with veal jus, which was rich and hearty with a deep meaty flavour and a poached egg topping.

My fillet of sea bass was excellent, cooked to flaky perfection with a zesty Oriental style slaw of ginger, garlic, chilli and spring onion which perfectly offset the fish while roast potatoes, Chantenay carrots and green beans rounded off this delightful main course. 

My dining companion equally enjoyed his local lamb, cooked pink and tender with seasonal vegetables and jus which shone with simple flavours which worked well together. 

My dining companion chose the fresh fruit dessert, which was light and irresistible with accompaniments of vanilla ice cream and sabayon sauce glazed under the grill. There was a cheeseboard available too, served with a variety of regional cheeses. 

I can never resist sticky toffee pudding and this was springy and light with a silky hot butterscotch sauce - a true classic dessert. Overall this was an outstanding meal which illustrated exactly why the restaurant at Ees Wyke has received such acclaim. 

After dinner, we retired to the lounge for coffee and petit fours next to the roaring fire, which ended the evening on a relaxing note as we chatted with our dinner companions long in to the evening. 

The next morning, we headed downstairs to sample the award winning breakfast, feeling well rested after a peaceful night. There was a huge table in the centre of the dining room laden with cereals, fruit, yogurt and pastries as well as a huge casserole dish of porridge served with whisky and cream.

It only took one glance to see why the breakfast here is award winning and from now on I think I can only eat porridge with a drizzle of whisky and cream as this was so indulgent!

We enjoyed an array of toast and pastries before placing our orders for hot breakfast dishes, and my perfectly cooked poached eggs on toast were the ideal way to start the day, while my dining companion ordered bacon, sausage and fried bread with tomatoes. All the produce is locally sourced where possible and the sausages from Jonathon at Cartmel Valley Game and bacon from RB Woodhall were very tasty according to my dining companion.

The gargantuan breakfast spread really set us up for the day and after breakfast, we set off to explore the grounds again. Ees Wyke benefits from lake shore access via a pathway through the fields and the 45 minute walk down to the lake and back is not to be missed during your stay.

This hotel is a real find - Ees Wyke is a timeless and elegant country house which combines peaceful surroundings and exceptional views with top notch hospitality and food – if you are looking for a luxury country hotel for an autumn escape I would say that this is just the place to book in to and I look forward to returning in the future! The hotel owner is happy to take bookings directly and you can reserve a room over the phone or via their website.

Ees Wyke Hotel
Near Sawrey, 
LA22 0JZ

015394 36393

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Ees Wyke and have you visited the Lake District? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*We were guests of Ees Wyke and this stay was complimentary for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Pumpkin risotto, the ultimate autumn dish...

If like me you stocked up on too many pumpkins for Halloween and now you have one left over, I have just the recipe here which will save the day. I made this for family a few weeks ago and it was so popular that the entire casserole dish I made was all eaten in one sitting.There I was thinking that there would be enough left over for me to make arancini the next day, too! 

I know that risotto is a recipe which many people find daunting, but honestly it is easier to make than you may imagine and I am so glad that I have mastered making my own risotto because it is a dish which I love to order when I go out for dinner. The trick is to add the liquid stock little by little, stir often and repeat until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice and you have a nice creamy risotto. It is a game of patience! 

1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 medium pumpkin peeled, de-seeded and diced in to cubes (roughly 400g/14oz)
4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 teaspoons of garlic purée to taste 
30g butter
200g risotto rice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 litre hot vegetable stock, plus extra splash if needed
Few tablespoons of dry white wine
Grated parmesan, to serve 


I like to prep first to save rushing around, so first off peel, de-seed and dice your pumpkin into chunks and peel and dice your onion. Preheat the oven to about 200c (adjust for fan oven). Place the pumpkin chunks in to a large roasting tin and drizzle with about 3tbsp olive oil, then roast for 30-35 minutes until the pumpkin chunks are softened. 
For the risotto, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Fry the diced onion and garlic until the onion is softened and then add the rice, stirring well until the rice is combined with the onion and garlic mixture. Sprinkle in the cumin and stir well. 
Now, add a ladle of stock and stir regularly until all the stock has been absorbed by the rice. Repeat this method, adding the stock (and the wine) little by little and stirring until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked thoroughly. With a little patience, you will have the perfect, creamy risotto and this is a great base recipe to which you can add your preferred ingredients to create a whole host of risottos!
When the roasted pumpkin is ready, take it out of the oven and stir it gently in to the risotto. Serve topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan and some fresh basil if desired. 
There you have it, this is one recipe which is a treat rather than a trick. I love this during the autumn months and if you find it difficult to source pumpkins, you can also use roasted butternut squash instead.

What do you all think, do you like the sound of this hearty autumn pumpkin risotto and would you give this recipe a try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Sampling Vegan Monday at Santa Maluco...

Writing about food means that I am fortunate enough to eat out regularly and every so often an invitation comes along which really intrigues me, which was the case this week when I went along to Santa Maluco* in Liverpool to try their new vegan menu. This is a fun restaurant with a vibrant atmosphere and a menu of wood fired pizzas made in their custom built oven, as well as an impressive selection of cocktails such as their renowned $5 Dollar Shake.

I reviewed Santa Maluco for Olive Magazine a while ago and I have long been a fan of the restaurant, so I was pleased to hear that they are introducing their ‘Vegan Mondays’, which sees a selection of vegan pizzas available either by the slice or ‘rodizio’ style, an all you can eat concept where pizzas are brought out to you fresh from the oven so you can continue having slices until you are full. Tables are equipped with a wooden spinner, which allows you to indicate when you want more pizza and when you have had enough. We settled in at one of the long communal tables overlooking the open kitchen, where the pizza chefs were whirling around creating their masterpieces.
First up, we tried the ‘what the duck’ vegan pizza, topped with mock duck, char sui, spring onions, cucumber, mozzarella and sesame seeds. This was packed with flavour and I loved the idea of an oriental style pizza.

I am something of a traditionalist when it comes to pizza and I love the unbeatable simplicity of a good margherita, which was the next variety we tried. This vegan take on the classic Neapolitan style pizza worked a treat, with vegan mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce on their signature thin and bubbly wood fired base.

We moved on to trying the Buffalo Soldier pizza, which showed imagination, with buffalo style cauliflower marinated in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce as well as mozzarella, blue cheese and celery. I loved the spicy kick of the hot sauce and it was the first time I have tried cauliflower on a pizza, which worked well.

The Falaffin’ pizza topped with falafel, tomato, cucumber, tahini and walnuts was our next choice and the crunchy, delicately spiced falafel really added to this pizza.

We moved on to the Return of the Mac, which delivered the enjoyment of a vegan burger in pizza form with toppings of vegan mince, mozzarella, big mac sauce, white onions, pickles and lettuce. The ratatouille vegan pizza was another winner, and the chunky ratatouille made this a rustic treat which was the ideal winter warmer. 

We just about managed to find some room for a slice of vegan dessert pizza, spread with thick chocolate and sprinkled with strawberries, hazelnut and sweet cream. This was the perfect treat to round off the evening.

Santa Maluco 
2 Castle Street
L2 0NA

Vegan Monday is priced at £10.95 before 4pm and £15.95 after 4pm for Rodizio pizza or £3 per pizza slice. With so many exciting vegan pizzas to choose from, it is no surprise that Vegan Monday at Santa Maluco is already proving popular and we loved the variety of toppings and the irresistible wood fired base which this restaurant is known for. 

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Vegan Monday and which of the pizzas would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time,



*We were invited to try the Vegan Monday menu at Santa Maluco, this meal was complimentary. Opinions stated herein are my own and honest. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A festive press dinner at Provenance...

With the start of October suddenly upon us, it is that time of year when many of us start to think about the festive season and last week we went along to a press dinner at Provenance to sample their festive menus. I have dined at Provenance before and I love the way the owners have combined a premium food hall and a fine dining restaurant in one space, just outside Bolton in the village of Westhoughton. All the produce at Provenance is carefully sourced as locally as possible and this is reflected in the quality of the food on offer here and they have gained a mention in the prestigious Good Food Guide 2018. We arrived to welcome glasses of Prosecco and we were treated to canapés including chicken liver in filo, potted salmon and mushrooms on toast which all appear on the Christmas Fayre menu. Chef Lewis Gallagher is continuing to make his mark in the culinary world and his creations showcase both technical skill and a flair for innovation - looking at the menu it was clear we were in for a treat. 

A light appetiser of cauliflower espuma proved to be a taste sensation, the foam was full of mild and nutty cauliflower flavour and the addition of caramelised Granny Smith apple in the base of the dish brought in a bright and zesty contrast. 

Pan fried cod with chorizo cassoulet and basil pesto was another elegant dish and the flaky cod paired well with the rich cassoulet while the pesto added fresh flavour. This was such a Mediterranean dish and the simplicity of the meat and seafood paired to make a satisfying combination. 

Duo of lamb with potato and celeriac dauphinoise was another outstanding dish and the peppery dauphinoise was delicious while the sweetness of the honeyed carrots complemented the other flavours, as did the Malbec paired with this course. 

Onion tatin was a dish which illustrated how incredible vegetarian dishes can taste when made by a skilled chef. I loved the idea of putting a savoury twist on the classic tarte tatin and the onions were sweet and sharp while flaky pastry, caramelised onion purée and burnt onion powder added to the finesse of this creation. 

Scallops are such a classic and we enjoyed the scallops with butternut squash textures and chorizo which was beautifully presented, with both diced and puréed butternut squash. This course was paired with a Pouilly-Fumé, the ideal wine to partner with this dish.

We were treated to a dessert of 'oops chef dropped the Manchester tart' a fun take on the infamous dessert by Massimo Bottura at Osteria Francescana. The shattered pastry gave way to a smooth and creamy filling with a subtle hint of vanilla.

Christmas pudding macaroons and bite sized squares of silky milk chocolate tart with candied clementine were the perfect petit fours to conclude the meal and spoons laden with cranberry panna cotta were equally tempting.

Provenance Food Hall and Restaurant
46-48 Market Street

01942 812 398

Having tasted the Christmas Fayre menu, I can certainly say that booking a meal at Provenance would be a lovely way to celebrate the festive season. Their quality, local produce in the hands of such a talented chef makes for a winning combination. Two courses from the Christmas Fayre menu cost £16 and three courses are £19.

What do you all think, do you like to dine out during the holiday season and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Thursday, 28 September 2017

Trying the new menu at Olive Restaurant...

Certain restaurants always bring back great memories and for me, one such place is Olive Restaurant and Bar* on Castle Street in Liverpool, where we have been dining for years since way back when we first lived in the city. Now we live further out of town and it is still one of my favourite places to go for dinner when we head to Liverpool, we have spent many long evenings soaking up the atmosphere here over the years and the contemporary interior design and open kitchen give the restaurant a welcoming feeling. 

The menu consists of classic Italian dishes such as pizza and pasta, alongside steaks, seafood and lighter dishes. I sipped Prosecco as we consulted the menu (which is updated seasonally) and we decided on our usual appetiser at Olive, the garlic pizza bread with mozzarella, which has a thin and crispy base and just the right balance of garlic, melted cheese and a sprinkle of sea salt. 

I have been travelling a lot recently, so my starter of minestrone soup was just the comforting and homely dish I was in the mood for. This rustic soup can’t be beaten when done well, it is essentially so simple but this was packed with flavour from the seasonal vegetables and pasta and the addition of freshly made croutons with pesto worked well. 

My dining companion went for the deep fried brie with beetroot and onion chutney, a generous wedge of brie in a golden crumb which was cooked to perfection while the tangy chutney contrasted with the rich cheese. 

On to the main course and I just love gnocchi, so I ordered the roasted vegetable gnocchi which was delicious; served in a generous portion, the gnocchi dumplings were not too heavy and the mix of roasted vegetables added fresh flavours. 

Side orders of tenderstem broccoli with chilli and almonds and a portion of courgette fries (in my opinion always the best way to eat courgettes!) completed the meal. 

My dining companion chose the chicken Milanese with spaghetti and chorizo ratatouille. This hearty dish was a real winner, the tender chicken in golden crumb was stuffed with creamy mozzarella and oregano and the chorizo ratatouille added rich and smoky flavours. 

Time for dessert and ordering the Tiramisu trifle is a must at Olive, I find that sometimes restaurants can overstate this traditional dessert by adding too many twists but at Olive this classic is done just right; creamy and not too boozy it makes a sublime sweet treat to round off a meal. 

Our second dessert choice of vanilla cheesecake was equally good; the generous wedge of baked cheesecake had a subtle vanilla flavour and the tangy cherries and amaretti crumb added to the enjoyment. 

Another pleasant evening at Olive Restaurant and Bar, which is consistently reliable for great food and service, while the location makes it ideal to continue your evening afterwards at one of the many stylish bars in the surrounding area. 

Olive Restaurant and Bar
25-27 Castle St
L2 4TA

What do you all think, do you like the sound of Olive and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was invited to review Olive Restaurant and Bar. This meal was complimentary. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.